Mayplace Lane community clean-up

Mayplace Lane
Mayplace Lane

The next Mayplace Lane community clean-up will take place on Sunday, 22nd June between 11.00am and 1.00pm, details are here on Facebook. Local residents will be clearing rubbish and removing weeds from the lane and also planting flowers and shrubs. Some £80 has been pledged to buy some plants by previous participants. This is the third clean-up. The others have been well supported with up to 20 participants: a great chance to meet neighbours.

Greenwich Council will again provide equipment such as litter pickers and bags for rubbish, and will collect any rubbish at the end of the session. If you’re planning to come along then it’s worth bringing some strong gardening gloves.  If you have anything stored in the lane you may wish to move it to ensure it is not thrown away.

Mayplace Lane
Mayplace Lane

Poetry at the Treehouse

Poetry at the Treehouse poster

If you want to escape from the football on Thursday Greenwich Poetry Workshop will be holding a poetry reading in the Treehouse,  the cosy, leather sofa-ed attic room  at the Greenwich Tavern. It starts at 7.00pm. Suzanna Fitzpatrick, poet and former publicity officer and lambing volunteer at Woodlands Farm, wrote with the details:

All are welcome at an evening of poetry as members of the Greenwich Poetry Workshop present their work in the cosy setting of the Treehouse on the top floor of The Greenwich Tavern.  Pamphlets of the poems will be on sale, and attendees are welcome to put their name down for the open mic on arrival and read some of their own poems.
Greenwich Poetry Workshop presents: Poetry at the Treehouse
Thursday 19 June 2014
7pm for 7.30pm
The Treehouse (top floor)
The Greenwich Tavern
1 King William Walk
SE10 9JH
0208 858 8791
Nearest stations: Cutty Sark DLR or Greenwich DLR/mainline
FREE ENTRY, no booking required.

There’s more about Suzanna’s poetry in a post about the last Poetry at the Treehouse event.

Who’s playing on Thursday? Oh …

The Treehouse at the Greenwich Tavern
The Treehouse at the Greenwich Tavern
The Greenwich Tavern
The Greenwich Tavern

Christ Church Shooters Hill Summer Fête

Christ Church Summer Fête Poster

Christ Church on Shooters Hill will be holding their Summer Fête on Sunday, 15th June, from 12.30-4.00 pm. As well as a variety of stalls, a barbecue and a bouncy castle the Fête includes an “Auction of Promises” at 1.00pm with some rare and unusual lots to bid for. They were all donated by the congregation and friends of Christ Church,  and include an opportunity to go bell ringing at St Alfege Church, a week’s accommodation in a townhouse in a French village and a pair of custom handmade sterling silver and beaded earrings. There are full details of all the lots on the Church’s Facebook page; here’s a summary list:

A week’s accommodation in a townhouse in the South of France
Punk Me Up Buttercup. £100 discount voucher for one of Punk Me Up Buttercup‘s party packages
Bell ringing in St Alfege Church, Greenwich
Pack of BBQ Marinades from Something Saucey
Website Design by Birkbeck College Final Year Student
London Property Company: One hour session providing advice on all aspects of buy-to-let
Two hours ironing
Individual Personal Training in Oxleas Woods.
Group Personal Training Session in Oxleas Woods
One Hour Tennis Lesson with Head Coach Phil Layfield of Shooters Hill Lawn Tennis Club
Two tickets to the English National Opera
45 minute dance classes from Diddi Dance
Curfew-free evening’s babysitting.
Custom handmade sterling silver and beaded earrings
Two tickets to Taste of London
A Boxing Session at Marsh Gym in Welling
Afternoon Tea at Castlewood Tea Room, Severndroog Castle
Family Photography Shoot in Greenwich Park by Art+Love
An hour-long Guitar Lesson
Babygrow set from Red Urchin
Little Kickers Course of 6 Classes. Valid at Christ Church Shooters Hill
Haircut at Salon Newman, Shooters Hill’s premier hairstylist
Three Hour Spring Clean by Cleaning Agency Friends
Set of 4 Mugs from Sweet William.
Wonka Birthday Cake by Rocking Pink Cakes
ActivKids Week-Long Summer Holiday Camp. Valid for Plumcroft School
Fresh Cornish Lobster with salad and white wine for two

If you won’t be able to get to the Fête on Sunday they are accepting sealed bids in advance by e-mail on

Christ Church  Shooters Hill
Christ Church Shooters Hill

Woodlands Farm Summer Show and Open Farm Sunday

Woodlands Farm Summer Show Poster

Woodlands Farm‘s Summer Show will be slightly different this year: it’s combined with Open Farm Sunday so it will include farming related demonstrations such as sheep shearing. There will also be Bee Keeping and  Wool Spinning Displays, and a dog show. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show on Sunday 8 June 2014, 11am-4.30pm. Come and meet our animals, and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey.  Relax in our café, get involved in craft activities and games, and enjoy displays of country crafts.  Entry is £1 adults and 50p children aged 4-16.  Children aged 3 and under go free.  All proceeds go towards caring for our animals.  A great family day out!

Open Farm Sunday was started in 2006 by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) and this year will see hundred of farms across the country open to the public on the 8th  as well as Woodlands.

Sheep Shearing  at Woodlands Farm
Sheep Shearing at Woodlands Farm

The farm will also be participating in a pollinator survey – counting pollinating  insects – which is being run as part of Open Farm Sunday. This is the third year for the survey, which is organised by the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming), supported by the British Ecological Society, Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Cotswold Grass Seeds. Participants are asked to spend two minutes counting insects on flowers in a crop habitat, followed by two minutes counting insects on flowers in an adjacent, non-crop habitat. Last year the survey recorded nearly 10,000 insects across the country. Open Farm Sunday have created a video that explains why pollinators are important and how to do the survey.

There will be a wildlife stall at the Summer Show to explain what wildlife and wild plant surveys the farm currently runs; these include Meadow plants, Newt and pond life, Bats, the Opal Biodiversity hedgerow and tree health survey and the Big Butterfly Count. Visitors will be able to find out about wildlife on the farm, and also about how to help with the pollinator survey. Then there will be two  public pollinator surveys, one as part of a guided farm walk and another on its own.

The Show is open from 11am-4.30pm on Sunday, 8th June. Let’s hope the weather is good for counting insects.

Even the scarecrows volunteered to help on the stalls at Woodlands Farm's Lambing Day
Even the scarecrows volunteered to help on the stalls at Woodlands Farm’s Lambing Day

Shrewsbury Park bird walk

Shrewsbury Park Bird Walk poster

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park will be hosting a bird walk tomorrow, Tuesday 3rd June, starting at 10.30am down at the Garland Road gate into the park. The walk will be led by Park Ranger John Beckham and will check out the bird boxes that were erected last year with help from pupils at Timbercroft School, as well as walking around the old allotment area.

The walk will go ahead whatever the weather, so come prepared and wear sturdy shoes.

Putting up bird boxes in Shrewsbury Park
Putting up bird boxes in Shrewsbury Park
Buttercup meadow at Shrewsbury Park
Buttercup meadow at Shrewsbury Park


Traffic Tunnels under Shooters Hill

Drawing from F.C. Elliston Erwood's Road Works at Shooters Hill, Kent
Drawing from F.C. Elliston Erwood’s Road Works at Shooters Hill, Kent

Traffic tunnels seem to be in vogue at the moment, whether it be the proposed Silvertown tunnel or the Mayor of London’s proposals to put stretches of the South Circular Road underground and to dig an Inner Ring Road tunnel round central London. This despite evidence from the 2011 census that car ownership in London is dropping, and research showing that building new roads generates more traffic.

Shooters Hill hasn’t been immune to tunnel planners’ dreams. An early proposal is included as an appendix to a slim 1947 monograph “Road Works at Shooters Hill, Kent, 1816”, by F.C Elliston-Erwood in the Greenwich Heritage Centre’s search room. Frank Elliston-Erwood, who lived on Shooters Hill, was a distinguished local historian. He was at different times president of the Greenwich and Lewisham Antiquarian Society and twice president of the Woolwich and District Antiquarian Society. He was a member of the WDAS for 70 years, first joining as a teenager and continuing until his death in 1968. One of his interests was the New Cross Turnpike Trust, and it was from their minute books that he extracted the information for his paper about road works on Shooters Hill.

The paper is mainly about how the New Cross Turnpike Trust tried to create employment in the economic depression which followed Wellington’s victory at Waterloo and the end of the Napoleonic Wars. It was “a period of commercial and industrial upheaval, coupled with misery, poverty and unemployment”. The Trust decided to allow £1000 out of their tolls at a rate of £50 per week to employ as many poor men as they could at a maximum wage of 10s (50p) a week in work such as the “the digging or quarrying of gravel or stones” and “the levelling or reducing of hills”. On Shooters Hill they moved gravel from the steeper parts and deposited it in hollows to smooth out the incline. The result can still be seen, for example on the western side of the hill on the road opposite Craigholm where the pavement rises above the road following the original slope of the hill. Similarly on the eastern slope there is an embankment on the Oxleas Wood side of the road.

The map and plan at the top concludes the paper. It shows a proposal for a road that bypasses the steep top of the hill, running parallel to Shooters Hill but on the Eltham side of Severndroog Castle. It was planned to run through a deep cutting and about 400 yards of lamp-lit tunnel. Needless to say the proposal was never implemented. The author of the plan clearly liked his pubs – the map includes the Bull, the Red Lion and the Fox and shows the bypass heading towards the Green Man in Blackheath. The Fox was the old Fox under the Hill, which subsequently was moved further down Shooters Hill Road.

A more recent proposal for a Shooters Hill tunnel was considered as one of the options for a new Thames Crossing which Transport for London consulted about last year. Option D6 in the Assessment of Options Report was for a Woolwich Tunnel joining the South Circular to the North Circular.  The proposal is complicated by the presence of other tunnels in the vicinity – the Woolwich Foot Tunnel and Cross Rail, not to mention the DLR, so it would have to be a deep tunnel underneath all the others. Also the steep slope up from Woolwich towards Shooters Hill makes it difficult to start a tunnel close to the river, leading to the proposal shown below with a tunnel entrance all the way up at Eltham Common. This means that the tunnel would be some five or six kilometres in length, the longest road tunnel in Britain.

Shooters Hill Tunnel section from TfL's Assessment of Options
Shooters Hill Tunnel section from TfL’s Assessment of Options
Shooters Hill Tunnel map from TfL's Assessment of Options
Shooters Hill Tunnel map from TfL’s Assessment of Options

The South Circular at Eltham Common where the entrance to the tunnel would be is shown below. Just imagine this green scene replaced by a huge, 4-lane tunnel portal, like the entrance to the Blackwall Tunnel. Fortunately the proposal was discounted. There were a number of factors leading to the decision not to take this option further. It was felt that Well Hall Road would become a bottleneck, limiting the tunnel’s capacity and reducing journey time improvements. It would be difficult to upgrade Well Hall Road because it is residential and has houses on both sides. Also it was “unlikely that the scheme could be built without negatively impacting on the housing lining the A205 through Eltham”.

The tunnel was felt to be too far away from the river to benefit residents closer to the Thames, for example in Woolwich, and would not connect to the major roads along the south side of the river, and so would not contribute to development along the river. Then there was the possible cost of up to 6km of bored tunnel, estimated at £1.5-2 billion. All things considered a Woolwich Tunnel doesn’t make sense.

South Circular at Eltham Common looking North
South Circular at Eltham Common looking North

The TfL East London River Crossings: Assessment of Options document mentions, very briefly, another tunnel under part of  Shooters Hill. Section 6.234 on page 167, which discusses the proposal for a “local” bridge at Gallions Reach, says (my emboldening):

In the longer term, any fixed link provides the potential for the highway connections to be amended or improved over time, to best suit the prevailing traffic and regeneration needs of the area. For example, the connections to the strategic network could be improved in the long term, such as through the provision of a direct link to the North Circular together with a tunnel south to the A2. This could potentially address the local concerns about traffic on residential roads in Bexley by providing an effective by-pass, while delivering large journey time benefits to the wider area by providing a more easterly strategic orbital route. In time this could replace the Blackwall corridor as the main strategic route, and deliver benefits to regeneration in the Lower Lea Valley.

So once any Gallions Reach crossing is in place any changes in traffic level – the then prevailing traffic – could lead to the building of additional roads, such as one through Oxleas Wood, to create the major easterly strategic route.

Concern about increased traffic levels on residential roads south of the river as a result of a new river crossing at Gallions Reach were heightened by a report produced for the London Borough of Newham on the Economic Impact of Gallions Reach Crossings. It presents the results of traffic modelling of different options for a Gallions Reach crossing, generated using  Transport for London’s highway model of East London known as ELHAM. Amongst the results was a map showing northbound traffic flows in 2021 assuming a bridge was built at Gallions Reach. The snippet below shows the area south of the river.

Snippet from Figure 2.6 of Newham's Gallions Reach crossings study showing traffic flows northbound if a bridge is built
Snippet from Figure 2.6 of Newham’s Gallions Reach crossings study showing traffic flows northbound if a bridge is built

It’s a difficult map to read, and it took me some time to work out what it was saying. The green blocks represent high traffic flows, and the large block in the middle of the picture is the Gallions Bridge itself. Working southwards from the bridge, the high traffic flow roads seem to be: Western Way, down to the gyratory near Plumstead Station, then up residential Griffin Road, across Plumstead Common on Warwick Terrace and then along Swingate Road, Edison Lane, Wickham Street to meet Bellegrove Road: none of these roads is designed for large traffic flows. To the west there are also high flows  in Plum Lane, and to the east large flows down narrow Knee Hill. And, as usual, the modelling doesn’t cover what would happen if one of the other Thames crossings was blocked, which seems a common occurrence at the moment, and all the traffic heading down the A2 to the Blackwall Tunnel turned off to Gallions Reach.

There is no analysis of the impact and costs of a tunnel from Gallions Reach to the A2 in the Assessment of Options document. As can be seen on the snippet from web site’s superb UK roads database below, if the tunnel went from Gallions Reach all the way to the A2 at Falconwood it would have to be longer than a 5-6km tunnel from Eltham Common under the Thames, and well over twice the length of the UK’s longest road tunnel the 3.2 km Queensway tunnel in Merseyside. If it were a bored tunnel it would cost more than the £1.5-2 billion estimated for a Woolwich tunnel. Should a cheaper construction option be chosen then people’s homes in Plumstead and ancient Oxleas Wood would be threatened yet again.

CBRD (Chris’s British Road Directory) Google Earth overlay for Ringway 2
CBRD (Chris’s British Road Directory) Google Earth overlay for Ringway 2

If the “prevailing traffic” following development of a Gallions Reach bridge led to a revival of plans for a road to the A2, along the lines of Ringway 2, one of the consequences would be the massive road junction shown below – splat on top of Woodlands Farm. It has been suggested that a Transport for London document revealed by a recent freedom of information request shows that a road through Oxleas Wood is included in one of the traffic scenarios that TfL are modelling for the Mayor of London’s Roads Task Force.

Shooters Hill interchange on CBRD (Chris’s British Road Directory) Google Earth overlay for Ringway 2
Shooters Hill interchange on CBRD (Chris’s British Road Directory) Google Earth overlay for Ringway 2